He retreated a few steps from the chopping sounds on the other side of the door.
“So we have reached the end; have we?” Padaver said softly, seated on the edge of the bed.
The monk nodded solemnly.
Padaver grimaced, holding his bandage. “I am sorry I led them here.”
Lytica gave a broken smile.
“I am not sorry in the least. The unknown god granted me a second chance, and I stood the test.”
He clutched Padaver’s hand.
“And I have made at least one more friend before I pass from this earth.”
The door all but shattered, opening the way for the first of the Vindavians to enter. A tall southman with a single thick blond braid, trailing down his chest, strode through the opening.
Lytica raised his sword, only to have it struck from his hand in a single stroke. His arms spent; he sank to his knees, defeated. The Vindavian raised his sword, the triumph immediately leaving his face as a short hafted tribesman’s axe thudded into his chest.
Now disarmed, Padaver still sat on the edge of the bed, blood now seeping through his dressing.
“Always take at least one more with you,” he said.
Another Vindavian pushed past the dying man and raised the axe used to break the door, then froze before he could bring it down. A growl so menacing to cow even the fiercest of beasts, curdled the blood of everyone in the room. The source stood in the shadows of the balcony; a man wearing a knee length mail hauberk and surcoat.
Behind him, brawny arms gripped the stone rail, and tensed. The horned helmet of a Blue River Guardsman bobbed above the rail as another set of arms appeared.
Vindavian and Nusallean eyes alike widened as the leading figure stepped into the room. All recognised the Nusallean man wearing the blue surcoat of the king’s elite. Emblazoned across the chest was the orange head of the snarling dog. He continued to growl softly as he edged nearer.
“It cannot be,” gasped the lead Vindavian.
But none could mistake the Nusallean man with long locks hanging in wild disarray about his shoulders. Unlike other Nusalleans, this one had jade green eyes, the same hue as the bushland that reared him. With a short-hafted, double-edged axe in each hand; Nusalle’s king furtively moved forward, growling continually with all teeth bared.
The Vindavians faces grew livid, tightening their grips on their weapons.
Lytica understood their fear; almost pitied them, for they faced the deadliest warrior to ever tread the earth… Tonunda the Savage.
He yapped once as he jumped, bringing his axe down. In mid step, the axe wielding Vindavian collapsed with rings shattered across the chest of his mail shirt. Before he struck the floor, another man suffered a gash across his thigh and fell, his helmet crushed by a second blow.
More Blue River Guardsmen waded into the room, following Tonunda’s attack. They trailed after him as he fought his way into the corridor. The savage little king was the living cyclone of his legend, hewing seemingly wildly, yet finding yielding flesh with each stroke.